Using a Thermal Camera for Beekeeping

A thermal camera or infared camera is indispensable when it comes to locating bees inside a wall or estimating a bee hives strength with minimal interference. They do an excellent job detecting the changes in surface temperature so that what is behind the surface is revealed. And this is exactly what you need as a beekeeper to locate a feral colony inside a building or simply just check the strength and location of your winter clusters in your normal hives.

FLIR= Forward Looking Infrared

If you remove bees from buildings or are interested in starting to, a thermal camera is worth the purchase. It can save a lot of time, increase your confidence, help keep cost low and increase the homeowners confidence in you. Using an infrared camera will quickly identify where an established hive is, and most importantly, where it isn’t. Often, wild hives are built right up to the stud or rafter in a home and knowing where the hive stops can help you make cuts into the drywall or flooring in the right spot.

bee+hive+under+carpet

The space where a beehive has built it’s hive between the 1st and 2nd floor.

Cutout under Carpet

The same space with the bee hive revealed with the thermal camera.

Beehive+in+a+wall

A large colony that has built between the studs of an outdoor storage shed. You can see where the core of the brood nest is.

20170612_143219.jpg

A colony has built in the space above this apartment bathroom

Beehive between rafters

The same space showing where the colony starts and stops between the rafters


If you have an Android phone with a USB-C charging port on the bottom, this is the camera you need. To check to see if your phone is compatible, click here.

If you have an iPhone , this is the camera you need. To check to see if your phone is compatible, click here.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera for iOS (Gen 3)
FLIR Commercial Systems, Inc. (AMZN)

Besides finding bees in walls and floors to make them easier to remove, thermal cameras are also handy with your regular beehives. A thermal camera can quickly diagnose a strong vs a weak colony. This gives you the information you need so you can make smart choices about how to help them.


The entrance of a beehive on a 55° late winter morning. You can see the bees come and go based on the warmth of their bodies.

Three beehives side by side showing the center of the brood nests. The hive on the far right is very weak compared to the hive on the left.

A strong colony in late winter showing the cluster is towards the top of the hive. Notice the temperature on the outside of the box is 22° F.

A strong colony with the cluster in the middle of the hive with the heat from the hive collecting under the inner cover.

A strong colony with the cluster in the middle of the hive with the heat from the hive collecting under the inner cover.


The FLIR thermal camera attaches to the charging port on the bottom which makes using them very convenient. If you do end up purchasing a thermal camera, be sure to buy an extension cord for it as well. It makes using the camera much easier. You will be slightly limited in how you can use the camera without it.

Hopefully you have found this helpful for deciding if a thermal camera is the right fit for you. They aren’t necessary for beekeeping at all, but they sure do make beekeeping a little more fun.

Affiliate links are used in this post. Check out our policies page to read more.

Happy Beekeeping!